Cablegate: Treasury a/S Cohen Requests Continued Tf


DE RUEHKU #0045/01 0241125
P 241125Z JAN 10

S E C R E T KUWAIT 000045




E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/25/2020

B. 09 KUWAIT 921
C. 09 KUWAIT 951
D. 09 KUWAIT 1178
F. 09 STATE 131801

Classified By: Economic Counselor Oliver John for reasons
1.4, (b), (d), (e).

1. (C) Summary and Key Points. During a series of meetings on
January 13 in Kuwait, Treasury A/S Cohen:

- Emphasized the Obama administration's commitment to
disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat Al-Qa'ida to
prevent their return to Afghanistan and Pakistan;

- Stressed that the Gulf-based financial support networks
for the Taliban and al-Qa'ida are largely the same, making a
cooperative effort on all fronts critical;

- Applauded GoK's intensified efforts over the past year
to combat illicit finance, but stressed the need to do more,
particularly to choke off the flow of funds to extremists in
South Asia;

- Drew GoK attention to the upcoming FATF mutual
evaluation and warned that deficiencies in Kuwait's current
AML regime will have a very negative impact on that review.
In this regard, he urged Kuwait to pass the amended AML law
as expeditiously as possible;

- Highlighted the travel ban imposed by UNSCR 1267, and
urged the GoK to communicate with recipient countries (and
with the USG) if it learns of impending travel.

- For their part, Kuwaiti officials expressed their
interest in cooperating with the USG to combat terrorism and
their strong concern about the crisis in Yemen and its
potential impact on GCC states. They were reluctant to
speculate on how long it would take parliament to pass the
amended AML legislation, but stressed that the GoK had passed
it to parliament on "an urgent basis". xxxxxxxxxxxx
committed to following-up on the travel of Kuwait's 3 UNSCR
1267 designees. End Summary and Key Points.

2. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx, Treasury A/S Cohen accompanied by
Ambassador met with xxxxxxxxxxxx. A/S Cohen also met separately with xxxxxxxxxxxx
Department for Combating Money Laundering Department. The
meetings also provided an opportunity to deliver ref F

3. (C) In the context of POTUS' strategic focus on
Afghanistan and Pakistan, A/S Cohen highlighted concerns
about funding of extremist groups in South Asia, such as
Al-Qa'ida and the Taliban. Cohen stated USG concerns that
terrorist facilitators were still operating in Kuwait and
urged GoK officials to increase efforts to combat terrorist
financing and facilitation from Kuwaiti sources. Cohen
raised concern over funds going to extremist groups in Yemen,
Afghanistan and Pakistan and noted that the funding networks
were interconnected, rendering impractical an approach to
disrupting financing that sought to differentiate between the
Taliban and Al-Qa'ida. (Note: The GoK has been much more
concerned with the Al-Qa'ida threat than the Taliban. End

4. (C) GoK officials reaffirmed Kuwait's commitment to an
on-going partnership with the USG and their interest in
stopping the financing of terrorism. They acknowledged
deficiencies in the Kuwaiti legal framework, but also
stressed that their current procedures -- especially on
charities regulations -- had brought the issue under better
control. xxxxxxxxxxxx explained that that the Ministry of
Social and Labor Affairs (MoSAL) and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA) oversee charitable funds sent abroad. He
described the process by which MoSAL and MFA engage Kuwaiti
embassies, coordinate with host governments to verify the
legitimacy of charities and projects before funds are
distributed, and then complete an audit of projects to verify
activity (ref c). Prefacing his remarks with "we are 100%
with you in Afghanistan," xxxxxxxxxxxx said that
"fortunately" Kuwaiti charities have accepted the new
controls and understand that "money needs to be followed and
tracked to the last dollar". xxxxxxxxxxxx stated "we are
keeping an eye on extremists; Kuwait has learned from past
mistakes and has taken action to successfully reduce criminal
activity". He observed that improved regulations were
forcing criminals to move their money outside the formal
financial network "by hand". All officials stressed that GoK
efforts to implement new policies and oversight procedures
has aided in deterring criminals from moving funds to
extremist groups; in that context they welcomed increased
bilateral cooperation to further build Kuwaiti capacity and
capabilities, but sought "concrete evidence" as well as
"suggestive intelligence", so that further legal action could
be taken.

Yemen: A Growing CT Concern

5. (S/NF) GoK officials expressed concern about recent
activities in Yemen, specifically over the growth of
Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).xxxxxxxxxxxx and
xxxxxxxxxxxx both denied allegations by Yemen's Prime
Minister that Kuwaiti Shi'a were funding Shi'a Houthi
militants in Yemen. xxxxxxxxxxxx requested details about
Yemeni CT cooperation with the USG, noting that Al-Qa'ida was
trying to control Yemen, and that "our role" (i.e., the
international community) is to dry up sources of funding,
which required extensive international cooperation. Although
xxxxxxxxxxxx acknowledged and encouraged USG efforts in
Afghanistan noting that "the cost is high but the only choice
is to continue the mission to reduce the threat," he urged
early efforts to prevent Yemen from becoming another

6. (C) With regard to Kuwaiti actions, xxxxxxxxxxxx noted GoK
aid efforts in Yemen. He said that "if we don't fund
positive interventions such as schools and mosques for 'at
risk' youth, extremists will fill the vacuum". xxxxxxxxxxxx
confirmed that funds sent to Yemen were distributed through
an MFA account housed at the CBK and that the GoK coordinated
with the GoY as part of Kuwait's process for monitoring
charitable giving. He noted that Kuwait's Foreign Minister
Dr. Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah would attend UK Prime Minister
Gordon Brown's January 28th International Summit on Yemen on
Kuwait's behalf and that the GCC has planned an advance
meeting of the donor's conference to discuss how to support
Yemen. He noted concerns that aid channeled through the GoY
would not reach the people, due to endemic corruption, but
asked then "who" could coordinate aid.

Amended AML Law Needed Before FATF Evaluation

7. (C) A/S Cohen cautioned that the lack of a FATF-compliant
AML law that outlawed terrorist financing would hurt Kuwait
in the upcoming Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
evaluation. He urged the GoK to do whatever possible to push
parliament to pass the pending AML law as Kuwait is the only
GCC country that does not outlaw terror financing. Kuwaiti
officials stressed that the amended AML law, as proposed to
Parliament, would significantly improve the ongoing efforts
to deal with illicit finance. They thanked Cohen for USG
suggestions on improving the draft amended law as well as the
participation from the USG at the December AML conference
(ref d). They expressed confidence that this law would give
them the necessary legislation to properly enforce and
prosecute financial crimes. They also noted that Kuwait is
engaged in several public awareness campaigns including the
impact of money laundering and a de-radicalization campaign
highlighting the negative impact of extremism.

8. (C) GoK officials expressed their hope that Parliament has
prioritized the amended AML legislation, but were less
sanguine on the law's chances for passage. xxxxxxxxxxxx said
that he hoped parliament would pass the law, but guessed that
there was a 50/50 chance that the government will gather
enough votes to pass it within this term. He also noted that
the law is a step in the right direction, but even if it is
passed challenges exist in getting the courts to 'work' as
cases take three to four years to prosecute and then if
appealed another three to four years to conclude.

More Needs to Be Done

9. (C) A/S Cohen noted the continued need to disrupt
terrorist funding streams. He noted that funding from Kuwait
to extremist networks in South Asia is of particular concern,
especially funding of Taliban activity in the AF/PAK region.
Cohen stated the US would support Kuwait's efforts to combat
illicit finance and to pursue the passage of current
legislation in any way necessary. He offered assistance in
capacity building for enforcement and prosecutorial
authorities that would help fulfill FATF recommendations. He
also acknowledged the need to share detailed information
about suspected financiers and facilitators.

10. (C) A/S Cohen acknowledged the importance of efforts to
disrupt planned attacks against U.S. and Kuwaiti targets and
the significance of holding open trials to dissuade others.
He expressed concern, however, that the three Kuwaiti UN 1267
designees (Al Bathali, Al-Ali, and Jalamah) and others, are
still traveling and providing support to extremist groups. He
cited the recent travel of UN 1267 designee Hamid Al-Ali to
Turkey in February 2009 and the GoK request to the UNSC to
waive travel restrictions for two 1267 designees to make the
Hajj pilgrimmage. A/S Cohen stressed that the UNSC 1267
travel ban was one of the more effective sanctions and urged
the GOK to notify destination countries (and the USG whenever
possible), as well as the UN of planned designee travel.
xxxxxxxxxxxx noted the difficulties involved in monitoring
intra-GCC travel (since GCC nationals can travel on ID cards
rather than passports), but committed to following up to
ensure that 1267 designees are being handled according to UN
mandate. For his part, xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that the GoK
is keeping a close watch on known terrorists/facilitators and
receives reports on their activities from their own families.

11. (S/NF) Comment. Cohen's visit came at a good time given
growing Kuwaiti concerns about terrorism and instability
emanating from Yemen. To the extent an Af/Pak-Yemen
connection can be developed for the GoK, USG-GoK strategic
interests can be aligned further. The visit usefully
reinforced the USG's capacity building strategy and
encouraged closer overall CT cooperation; Cohen's GoK
interlocutors were generally receptive to the idea of an
enhanced bilateral training program aimed at combating
financial crimes. The proposed interagency capacity building
program will build a constituency here as will our
willingness to help the GoK take the steps they need to take
for the upcoming FATF mutual evaluation. While incremental
progress is possible within the existing legal framework,
passage of an amended AML/CTF law is clearly necessary to
give authorities here the necessary legal tools to
effectively combat terror financing and other financial
crimes. End Comment

12. (U) A/S Cohen has cleared this message.

********************************************* *********
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
visit Kuwait's Classified Website at: it
********************************************* *********

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